Flight 1420, A Preventable Disaster

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Flight 1420 11

Flight 1420,
A Preventable Disaster
Commercial Aviation Safety
November 15, 2011

Flight 1420 was a disaster that taught the aviation community several important lessons. All the Seven Major Elements of Aviation safety can be seen as contributing factors but the greatest factor was human error and the impact of pilot fatigue. With proper preventative measures, the pilots probably would have had the time to arm the MD-82’s spoiler system and the flight would have touched down safely. On June 1st, 1999 American Airlines flight 1420 experienced a tragic accident that claimed many lives and made an impact on aviation worldwide. The event and it subsequent investigation shed
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This was a wise decision as landing in a tailwind is one of the most precarious situations a pilot can face, but the added workload of developing a new landing pattern from scratch added one more layer of stress and pressure to the issues that had been mounting since Dallas Ft. Worth. The alternate runway pattern added an additional ten minutes to the pilot’s 2 hour delay. The pilot workload exponentially increased as the aircraft entered in a new pattern and began to have great difficulty establishing a visual fix on the airport. When asked if the aircraft was going to shoot an ILS approach or continue on visual the captain elected to remain on a visual approach. Afterward it can be guessed that Captain Buschman didn’t expect the storm to intensify even further as he neared the field. The aircrew lost sight of the field as the storm worsened and was given approach vectors by ATC. The flight deck voice recorder indicated there was confusion between the pilots and there was a disparity between what one pilot was observing as opposed to the other. (NTSB 2001) As the aircraft finally was lined up final approach the runway visibility dropped to less than 1 mile with a runway visual range of 3000 feet. The crew had a brief disagreement on whether to continue the landing and elected to attempt it. On approach wind were gusting at 45 knots. (NTSB

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